The switch is effective immediately.
The Tequila Patrón ESM squad has confirmed that it will return to the ARX-03b open-cockpit prototype for the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship race at Sebring International Raceway next weekend. Two of the Wirth Research designed cars will compete in the second round of the TUDOR Championship and second race of the Tequila Patrón North American Endurance Cup.
Further development of the new closed-cockpit ARX-04b coupes is needed after a final evaluation test was completed at Sebring last weekend.
A tough decision
The move comes as final homologation of the new design has to take place by the end of this week. Tequila Patrón ESM, HPD and Wirth Research all decided to continue development of the package rather than race without any further chance of developing of the LMP2 racer.
After being with Honda for 10 years and knowing Nick Wirth, undoubtedly the ARX-04b will fulfill its expectation with some additional development.
The postponement of the planned 2015 program for the ARX-04b, which included the full FIA WEC calendar will come as an initial blow to ESM, as they now switch to an alternative chassis – Ligier. Two new Ligier JS P2 chassis are being readied for the Spa 6 Hours in May.
The Onroak organisation which build the Ligier have prior knowledge of the Honda HR28TT V6 engine installation after Oak Racing ran a Team Asia entry at Le Mans in 2014, finishing 7th in class. The Michael Shank Racing Ligier also utilizes Honda power in their Ligier chassis.
We are naturally disappointed that we are not yet ready for homologation, but we cannot homologate a car that is not yet meeting all of its targets
Steve Eriksen, HPD
Motorsport.com understands that Tequila Patrón ESM will attend both the Paul Ricard test later this month and the opening FIA WEC race at Silverstone with two ARX-03b chassis.
“We very much appreciate the effort that Tequila Patrón ESM has undertaken on HPD’s behalf to get the ARX-04b on track and helping to identify teething issues with our new chassis. We are naturally disappointed that we are not yet ready for homologation, but we cannot homologate a car that is not yet meeting all of its targets,” said Steve Eriksen, HPD vice president and chief operating officer.
“Unfortunately, the time needed for remaining development is at odds with Tequila Patrón ESM’s planned prototype sports car racing efforts this season. We have made the difficult decision to change course at the 11th hour.”
Scott Sharp reacts
“Thank you to everyone at Honda, HPD, Wirth Research and Tequila Patrón ESM for their tireless efforts over the last four months,” said Scott Sharp, Tequila Patrón ESM owner and driver. “After being with Honda for 10 years and knowing Nick Wirth, undoubtedly the ARX-04b will fulfill its expectation with some additional development. Quite simply, that will take a bit of time and we’re racing against the clock with the homologation deadline and start of the WEC season around the corner. To ensure a successful WEC season and championship run for Tequila Patrón ESM and HPD, we have decided our best opportunity to win races and the LMP2 title this season is to compete with an existing homologated chassis.”
“We have purchased two new Ligier JS P2 chassis designed by Onroak Automotive, continued Sharp. “Onroak has an established relationship with Honda and have a proven P2 chassis that will allow us to carry on with our planned WEC LMP2 campaign. Philippe Dumas and his team have been tremendous and are prepared to work overtime to deliver us two cars to compete at the 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps in May.”